Welcome to STB’s 2015 General Election Open Thread! We’ll be posting results as they come in (first drop is at 8pm), and we’ll be chiming in with additional commentary throughout the evening. We’ll also be sharing reactions on our Twitter feed using hashtag #seaelex.

5:00pm

6:42pm

  • King County elections expects its 8:15pm ballot drop to account for approximately 245,000 ballots, or about 20% of registered voters countywide. The turnout is the same for Seattle, with 85,000 out of 420,000 registered voters in tonight’s first drop.

6:46pm (Updated 8:48pm)

7:33pm

  • Here’s the scene at the Move Seattle party, with the usual suspects in the house, including Dow, Cascade, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, TCC, and more. Lots of media too
  • IMG_0960

7:55pm

  • No matter the results of Prop 1, Mayor Murray will speak at 8:30 from the Belltown Pub. We’ll post video shortly thereafter.

8:15 First Drop

  • In initial results, Move Seattle is leading 56-44. Our council endorsements are sweeping the ticket, with Braddock, Harrell, Sawant, Johnson, Juarez, O’Brien, Bagshaw, Burgess, and Gonzalez all leading relatively comfortably.

8:30 Community Transit Now

  • A nailbiter! Community Transit Prop 1 is leading by just 746 votes, or 50.83% in favor.

55 Replies to “Election Night Open Thread”

  1. Is 20% a normal proportion to come from that ballot drop?

    Part of me is very worried that that 20% is a result of the amping up of the No campaign on Move Seattle.

    1. So whats with all the under and over counts up there in SnoHo? Are those really invalid ballots?
      Looks like a photo finish, so far.

      1. Undervote means that race was left blank on a ballot. Not invalid, just not a vote in that contest.

  2. So what implications would I-1366 passing (and being upheld in the inevitable lawsuit) have for transit? It’d be a cut to the statewide budget, but except for the Tri-County Connectors, most transit is funded by local budgets, which would be unaffected.

  3. Good to see Badturd got torn a new one by Gonzalez.

    Whats the thought about Eyman’s 2/3 vote prop leading especially with ST3 next year?

    1. My prediction is that it will be challenged in court and struck down, as it essentially subverts the power of the legislature to make laws. If this thing were upheld, it would set a very bad precedent, allowing a simple ballot initiative to effectively amend the state constitution, without approval of the legislature, by blackmailing the legislature into proposing whatever constitutional amendment the initiative author wants.

    2. That affects the State sales tax rate – so I don’t think it would impact ST3. Can someone correct me if I’m wrong?

    3. I don’t think it would affect ST3 directly because it’s a voter-approved proposition. The 2/3 rule is for state taxes that the legislature imposes without a public vote. Since the state doesn’t pay anything for local transit except a few grants, cutting a fifth off zero is still zero. But it could send the state into a crisis all around it, which may affect your general quality of life. The courts will take the first share of the remaining money for education and mental health evaluations and other constitutionally-mandated services, and everything else would be whacked. So Amtrak Cascades might go away for instance.

      1. This would be a total abomination – I can’t imagine the courts will let it stand. Washington is already regressive enough not having an income tax. This would hurt the low-income and most vulnerable populations the most.

      2. If Eynman really wants to cut the state budget, maybe he should put an initiative on the ballot to blackmail the legislature into amending away the “Education is the state’s first priority” language in the Constitution.

      3. Or maybe the state legislature will just respect the voters, put a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring either a public vote or a 2/3rds supermajority for any tax incrase on the ballot in 2016 and end this.

        Why not?

        I say to you on the left of me this: You like being denied a vote on massive highway expansion because Rep. Jessyn Farrell sold us out to the WEA? I don’t because it’s just not fair highway taxes get legislative approval but every transit tax requires us transit advocates to campaign positively against a negative, vote-suppressing campaign PLUS raise money PLUS phone bank PLUS hope we get voter approval while folks look for some way to control their tax burden.

        You now get my anger tonight? I think you share most of it. Tonight is too close for comfort in the North by Northwest.

      4. As to;

        If Eynman really wants to cut the state budget, maybe he should put an initiative on the ballot to blackmail the legislature into amending away the “Education is the state’s first priority” language in the Constitution.

        I would like that. Very much. Where the hell is the money going? Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Centre makes many legit points about Seattle School District WASTE: http://washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/what-has-seattle-school-board-done-753-million

        It’s time to stop the spending in the educational industrial complex, but how is for another blog.

      5. @Joe:

        Why not?

        I can think of a litany of reasons why not. To wit: 1) This would be a single vote to kneecap one of the most critical powers of a legislature, the power of the purse; 2) If we’re going for “fairness in votes,” why should tax decreases be subject to a lower standard than tax increases? Tonight has just rather conclusively demonstrated that some portions of the state don’t mind paying the bill; 3) If the people are going to demand all of this power to control allocations of revenue–and not bother leaving it to the people we elect to do that job–why have a Legislature at all? Let’s go full tyranny of the majority and have all revenue bills put to a direct vote. It would save us a boatload on ceremonial signing pens for the Governor’s office; 4) In conjunction with #3, in case it’s not clear, my not-so-humble opinion is that Washington State needs more barriers to paying for good government like it needs another hole in the head.

        …PLUS hope we get voter approval while folks look for some way to control their tax burden.

        Turns out, if you’re pretty well off, Washington State’s tax structure is pretty dang nice for you. If you’re not, it sucks balls. How is binding the Legislature to yet another arbitrary limit on financial authority (we’ve already got the 1% rise cap, the 1% overall cap, restrictions on how transportation funds can be spent, mandatory spending requirements on education, and so on and so on) going to help any of that?

        But this might be veering a bit too far [ot] so I’m going to stop here.

        All of the above said, congrats on CT#1 taking a lead in the first return. I think it will hold up.

      6. “Why not?”

        Because it’s very difficult to get 2/3 of the legislators (or the public) to agree on anything. so it leads to gridlock and nothing getting done. The states that have done it like Kansas and California have seen their budgets and economies fall in a tailspin; California only got back on its feet by overriding it. And if you say, “Just send the measures to the people and they’ll vote for them”, well Seattle might but the rest of the state might not, because a significant percentage of people believe falsehoods, that you can magically cut taxes and essential things will still be funded, or that the state is doing nothing for them and they’re not receiving the services they’re getting, or two different groups of activists vote for two contradictory things such as smaller class sizes but not the means to pay for them.

      7. Virtually all voters are not qualified to run the state government so why would we ask them to do it? We as a group hire people to do this for us based on their qualifications.

        Also people think there’s some magical way of having free ice cream cones for a year. People who actually understand budgets know this isn’t possible and it has to be paid for. The populace would vote for lower taxes and increased services every time.

      8. I think we had a great debate last night, sorry I dropped out when I did. Sincerely.

        Wes, with the status quo being transit taxes go to voters, highway taxes not I am of the view all should go to voters. We’ll never get Sound Transit to councilmatic approve anything but fare increases. So I’m calling for some balance and equity.

        I do agree with the general POV that tax exemptions should also face the voters. I’d like to see how that goes in a full – not advisory, but full – campaign.

        Some of you doubt voter’s intelligence. That’s not a good attitude to have one year before ST3 people. We barely won Community Transit.

        Finally, I am also for a pay-as-you-go rule slid into the state constitution on initiatives & referenda. Good points all.

      1. You should tell Bill that, he wasn’t shy about name calling when getting in arguments with urbanist types. Especially those making the obvious point that zoning was part and parcel of the systematic apartheid of 20th century America. Good riddance to a jerk with terrible ideas.

  4. What a great night for good transit and land use outcomes in Seattle! Thanks for the coverage tonight Zach and for hanging out at the Move Seattle party :)

  5. A little ashamed to admit that I didn’t mail in a ballot in this most sleeper of elections. But the only vote I was worried about was a landslide.; Balducci up by 20 % points. Proof managers rise to the level of their incompetence.

    1. Joe, check me on my math. Am I right that Washington State has about 4 million registered voters- and Initiative 1366 will get around 400,000? If so, doesn’t that mean that a tenth of our state’s voters can dictate policy to the other nine tenths?

      And this particular initiative- if legislators give in to it rather than accept a sales tax drop, assuming that part is ruled Constitutional…doesn’t 2/3 majority requirement constitute minority rule?

      You’re right that under present rules majority of those who voted decided the election. And that the other side could have campaigned harder. And could reverse the results by another initiative. Which could be reversed back and forth for years.

      And there’s an overarching problem. I have to know that even legislators I disagree with are in a position to know the most critical thing about any legislation: to get the thing I want, what will I have to give up?

      So even if I knew that my side was going to win every initiative on the ballot, no matter how many we could think up, I would not want to see a State ruled this way. And I’d like it even less if legislators on my side acquiesced to my initiative after the State Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

      And I don’t think bondholders would like it very much either.

      Mark Dublin

      1. The other 9/10ths should have voted. If somebody asks you what you want and you don’t say, you can’t blame them for making a default decision.

        A well-functioning legislature that’s evenly divided compromises and gets things done. The problem the past few years is that certain factions have refused to compromise on anything and the whole legislative process grinds to a halt. That has been more of an issue nationally than in our state, but we still have to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t start happening in our state and cities too. The 2/3 rule would have a moderate effect if legislators are willing to compromise, but it could become a torpedo if they aren’t, if something has 55% or 60% support but can’t quite reach 66%. The Forward Thrust subway won the popular vote but couldn’t reach the supermajority it required, and it took twenty years before a redo became viable.

    1. They haven’t been raising rents the maximum they could already? 5-10% a year is a windfall. The total tax burden is less in Washington than in other states, it just looks like a lot because it’s all piled onto the property tax and sales tax, and the levies make individual items more visible. Other states also give partial transit funding to the cities (which of course comes out of state taxes); ours doesn’t so we have to raise it all locally.

    2. Landlords can and do raise rents over whatever they want. That said when I voted for it I knew it could very likely get passed along to me through my rent, which I was fine with, in fact I think that’s how its supposed to work. Its real cost (increase in building’s taxes divided by number of units) is small like a few dollars a month (whether they choose to exaggerate the cost for ideological reasons is a whole other story). Average cost to a “homeowner” is $12/month and we all know how expensive all the single family houses are in Seattle, so based on that guess how much for an apartment of whatever value ($5-8?). Quite frankly I don’t see why it shouldn’t be passed onto tenants and I say that as a tenant. Don’t vote for any measure if you aren’t willing to pay your share of it.

      1. I’m willing to pay my share, but some of those comments sound like this will be used as an excuse to raise rents much higher than the amount of the tax increase.

        I don’t know why I even read the comments on that particular blog for something like this–it’s always a dispiriting experience.

      2. I mean, the one landlord ere seemed to have the attitude of “well, you grants probably voted for this anyway since you’d probably benefit from it more thanks responsible landowners, so I’m going to raise the hell out of rents to get back at you takers.” But maybe I was reading too much into it.

      3. Landlords have been using taxes and inflation as excuses for years. My landlord circa 2007 and 2008 sent letters saying rent was going up $50 and $150 because of taxes and the cost of maintenance but it was obviously baloney because they hadn’t risen that much. Since it was his right to raise the rent anyway, the statement is really just token a excuse or weaseling. So now that rents have risen so dramatically since 2000, we could raise taxes 20% and the landlords could just take it out of the extraordinary profits they’ve accumulated the past several years. But instead rents will go up significantly next year anyway, whether or not this tax passes.

        Then there’s the issue of what Move Seattle funds. By making it easier to move around the city, it makes it easier to live in lower-cost neighborhoods, and to get to jobs that may be anywhere, and to downsize your cars and parking spaces. That is a real benefit worth paying for.

      4. That letter only says “rent increase” without an amount, so if they do raise it $100 it will be just par for the course and indistinguishable from the general rents in the city. But if he raises it to something extraordinary like $200, then there would be an exodus of tenants moving to better deals elsewhere and he’d have a hard time filling the units. (Or at least he would have a hard time filling them if there weren’t so many people willing to pay top dollar for a unit site unseen regardless of its condition.)

      5. It goes without saying that that letter is very unprofessional. I’ve had a variety of landlords of varying quality, some from management companies and some mom-n-pop, but none of them would send a letter like that.

    3. Maybe a little bit? But rents in a high priced area like Seattle clearly aren’t based on costs anymore, they’re based on demand, or more specifically, demand outpacing supply.

      It’s true that any property tax increase would just be passed onto renters in a low cost-of-living area that has abundant housing, but in a demand-based model with constrained supply, landlords essentially charge whatever they can get away with, which is based on how many people there are, how much money they have, and how little supply there is.

      You’ll probably see rents increase, but that’s already true; the effect of the property tax increase will likely be minimal.

      1. It just sounded like that one landlord was going to vindictively raise rents, not by the amount of he actual property tax increase, which would be fair and expected, but some random larger amount, to get back at tenants, who he might have felt would have been more likely to vote for this proposition. And I’m sure there will be more like him. Also acting as if this proposition is only going to benefit a small minority of people. Just the whole tone of the comments.

      2. And the other thing is that so many people who comment on that blog are anti development and believe that more development is what’s causing higher rents, instead of the fact that there just isn’t enough housing.

      3. I just moved into a new rental house. Out of curiosity I looked up the property tax for the house. Since 2012, the owner’s tax bill has gone up $414 a year.

        In that same time, the value of their investment went up $141,000 in assessed value and they raised the rent $3000 a year when we moved in (it’s still a good deal for Seattle).

        In this town there is no way costs are associated with rents. The market is already priced way, way above pure cost as far as I can tell.

      4. Now that single-car collisions on our every freeway every weekday lose ST thousands of operating hours because their buses are stuck, I don’t think there’s any shortage of housing working people can afford.

        It’s just taking place where people now have to fill up freeways to commute twice a day. Making transit even slower, so that leaving the car home is “not an option”. More hateful term than “Issues”, which regularly take down Sounder locomotives before they leave the yard.

        If somebody can think of a better reason for this exponentially exploding transportation disaster- you’ve got no idea how much I’d like to be wrong. Because I used to think that best anti-gentrification protest move for desperately enterprising creative people to move to places like Olympia.

        Where the land-use I’m seeing through the window at my favorite cafe make living in a camper a block or two either side of Leary Way along the Route 40 look more gentrified than Columbia City.

        Just to check out my last possibility: Is Eastern Washington still on fire?

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

    4. I wonder how many of the massively-expanding “homeless” now include my former neighbors at Lockhaven in Ballard?

      People who worked hard all their lives, and who in a decent city, county, state, or country would have been able to finish their well-lived lives in the homes they had always been able to settle for? Even enduring coin washing machines, lack of weight-rooms, and all those deprivations?

      This is ‘way beyond sane calculations of rental property or “markets”. And smells a lot worse than a fish-one. Because to live anywhere in Seattle now, someone not only needs enough money to handle a hundred percent rent-or housing-cost- increase, but constant future increase without number.

      And by now, for prices that have broken loose from any added value. Because in Seattle, these prices go up because, well, that’s just what prices do. I wonder if one hope is that when this economy does like the one in 2008, this time real conservative capitalism will see to that prices stay at the level where the ideology’s own rules put them.

      Even better: for a couple of decades, productivity of US workers has been steadily rising. If their wages start keeping pace, as free enterprise theoretically also dictates- result would be even better.

      Mark Dublin

    5. My monthly rent was just raised more than the expected property tax increase on homes valued over more than $400,000. That, in and of itself, is not proof of anything wrong. The landowner was perfectly within his right to leave a mass-photocopied note on my door warning that he would pass the costs of levies onto renters. It had no impact on my vote, especially since the rent had just gotten raised anyway.

      But I’ve had years where the rent did not increase at all, and I got a bargain when I first moved in. Good landlords probably don’t skip annual rent increases without good reasons. (This is one of my critiques of SHA, which overreacted to the reaction to its proposals for 100% rent increases.)

      Nor is my situation going to cause me to suddenly join the chorus for rent control. (With all the non-incumbents advocating rent control losing, I don’t think the issue will get much mileage anyway.) My problem is not the result of landlords having too much power. It is the result of not having enough open rental places to moved to with cheaper rent, should I decide I can’t afford to live here any more. (It is still on the low end of rent for Seattle, even after the increase.)

      My reaction to the results so far? HALA-lujah!

      1. I’m happy about it too. I personally had a large rent increase earlier this year, but this was after a couple years of no increases, and only sporadic increases before that. My particular landlord is very fair, and if she raises our rents again because of this initiative it’ll probably be by a fair amount. But not all landlords are like her, unfortunately.

        I overreacted when I saw that one post, which sounded as if that landlord was going to just raise rents any old way in retaliation, but he probably overreacted in the heat of the moment as well.

        Plus some of the other posts on that blog were saying that Move Seattle only helped a small group of people, when it seemed as if there was something on there for everyone, and if it hadn’t passed, you can be sure there would be complaints about “why didn’t such and such get done, what’s wrong with Seattle”.

        Also frustrating is many of the complaints on that blog about density, but that’s for another time.

        I think I need to stop reading the comments on that blog.

  6. It seems suspect that a law requiring 2/3rds majority for future law changes can itself pass by only a majority, and passing new laws to undo that 2/3rds requirement would also only require a majority- even if the new law didn’t mention modifying the 2/3rds one wouldn’t it implicitly supersede it?

    1. Since 20 years ago, the legislature passed Tim Eyman’s initiative for him, with a Democratic governor’s signature, after State Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

      But I doubt that either court would have any problem with an initiative passed by a simple majority mandating a simple majority for every official vote in the State. Or dare to come out against it in public.

      How come over all this time, nobody has even tried. Or kept trying every election since Tim Eyman’s first? He swore- and is keeping his promise- that he’ll keep filing initiatives lifelong. Where’s our mandatory 100% “Back Atcha?”

      Mark Dublin

    2. He would have to pass a constitutional amendment requiring 2/3 majority for constitutional amendments, to prevent a simple majority from repealing the tax amendment.

  7. Mike, I agree with you that it’s not my opponent’s fault when my cause loses an election. This is why I’m generally harder on Democrats than on the sheet-wearing southern Democrats who took over the Republican party.

    Though I do cut a lot of slack for real Republicans like Jim Ellis, who founded Metro, and Fred Jarrett, who was forced to become a Democrat, which is worse than making him wear a green polyester leisure suit instead of a well-tailored pinstripe that was his party’s uniform.

    Being truly conservative people, meaning cautious, thoughtful, and civilized, they had less natural defense against the fate or their party than the Native Americans had against smallpox. Damaging loss for the Democrats too.

    Because for the increasingly for the last forty years, their most, and now their only appeal to vote for them is that the Republicans are worse. Fact they’re no longer worse isn’t Donald Trump’s fault. Nor is it the reason that, in 2010, massive number of working-class and young voters decided voting wasn’t worth the marker-ink.

    So you see, Mike, I’m ‘way ahead of you. Hope some key Democrats and every voter under 25 reads this too.

    Mark

  8. In the meantime, Salem had its transit measure fail, guaranteeing that no weekend service is anywhere on the horizon.

    With a service area population of 236,000, Salem Cherriots seems to be have the most populous urbanized area in the northwest with 0 transit service on weekends.

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